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Hydrogen peroxide: from centralized to decentralized and clean production


Mario Pagliaro
Istituto per lo Studio dei Materiali Nanostrutturati, CNR, Palermo, Italy

Hydrogen peroxide is a key green chemical of today’s and tomorrow’s global economy (1), whose current ~ 4 million tonnes yearly production forecasts to reach 6 million tonnes by 2024 (2).

Demand is driven by several new industrial uses as clean oxidant and bleaching agent. The only decomposition products of H2O2, indeed, are water and dioxygen.

Industrial uses for which hydrogen peroxide is in high demand include paper-making and wastewater treatment, as a reagent in the catalytic synthesis of propylene oxide, in electronics and semiconductors, mining and metal extraction, healthcare and disinfection products.

In fine chemical manufacturing, too, its use as clean and safe oxidant is being rapidly rediscovered. Diluted in ethyl ether, for example, H2O2 is an excellent clean oxidant to selectively oxidise alcohols over sol-gel entrapped ruthenium catalyst (3).

The distributed (“on-demand”) production of H2O2 via new and cleaner routes from water or from dioxygen is highly desirable (4), especially when using today’s plentiful low-cost wind and solar photovoltaic electricity ...

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